Mistrust, sexual misconduct rampant at Concordia's English Department: report

Concordia University has released the results of a review of its English Department after several allegations of sexual misconduct surfaced — and it found the overall culture and climate within the department was detrimental to the promotion of healthy relationships.

The so-called 'Climate Review' of the department was compiled by retired Quebec Court of Appeal justice Pierrette Rayle and two psychologists, and was based on testimony from more than 100 students, former students, staff and faculty gathered online and through in-person interviews.

The report's authors identified four key issues impacting the department’s reputation: real or perceived acts of sexual violence committed by faculty members, real or perceived instances of favouritism, a general mistrust towards the institution in dealing with complaints, and an overall perception of discrimination and hostility.

Last year, Concordia president Alan Shepard announced that the university would take steps to respond to sexual harassment claims throughout the school — particularly within the English Department. Shepard, who teaches in the English Department, said he had been "disturbed" after reading a blog post by former Concordia student Mike Spry which described the "toxic masculinity" that existed in the department, and the Canadian literary scene in general.

Also in 2018, two professors were suspended amid misconduct allegations, though they were later cleared.

Speaking to CJAD 800 and CTV Montreal, Concordia’s Deputy Provost Lisa Ostiguy was asked if the report’s findings surprised her.

After a long pause, she responded, “Not really.”

CJAD 800's Benson Cook contributed to this report.